Reflections on the upcoming year from TLZ Scholars:
Most students in my high school and neighborhood plan on going to seminary or yeshiva after they graduate high school. Personally, that was not always the plan for me.
Although I was too young to recall the event, my life was changed forever when my mother was in a terrible car accident. She was in the hospital for many months, endured many operations, and today still battles with chronic pain. Coming from a household with a disabled mother, I had a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. Because of that I could not fathom the thought of leaving all of my responsibilities behind and going to Israel for a year. I never imagined that I would be able to go to Israel to learn and enjoy myself for a year.
I was not your average teenager. As odd as it sounds, I learned many things from the childhood I was “fortunate” enough to have. The responsibility piled on, and I more or less raised myself, but I learned to face my challenges head-on and not let anyone or anything bring me down. I was strong, and matured more and faster than any of my peers. I learned that in life we go through hard times, but without the hard times, we would not know what the good ones felt like. I tried to never take anything for granted, especially money, because I knew just how expensive my mother’s medications are. My father, being the only working parent had a lot of pressure on him, which only added to the stress of the household. I could not imagine asking my parents to pay $25,000 for another year of yeshiva tuition in addition to the hundreds of thousands they had already spent on my sister and me.
The whole concept completely boggled my mind. In school, teachers would take time out of classes to try and convince all of us why and how important it is to take the gap year to learn in Israel. I knew that I wanted to go, and I realized that it would be good for me to have some time away for myself, but I did not want to leave my family behind in the condition we were in.
For all the years of my “childhood,” all I have been doing is helping around the house and being there for my family. I never had the opportunity to be a kid and do what I want. I never had the chance to wake up and say that I want to go on a walk and not make dinner or not go to the pharmacy to pick up my mother’s medication. I truly believe that it’s time to escape reality and create a new one. The idea of doing what I want is strange to me and it will definitely be the most difficult concept for me to grasp, but I know that it’s important to take a year off to become to person I want to be. My goal for MY year in Israel is to make it mine. I want to be in the land that I love doing what I love most, learning Torah and making an even stronger connection with Hashem. I would not be the person I am today, if I did not have the childhood that I had and if I did not face the challenges I did.
It took many rebbeim, teachers, crying sessions and ice cream tubs to get me to the place I am today: sitting in front of my computer just four days to go until I step onto the plane and head to Eretz Yisrael for the year. I could not be more grateful for the Torah Letzion Foundation for the scholarship they have given me. Without it, I would not have had the courage to even ask for this once in a lifetime opportunity. Not only am I able to go to seminary, but also the seminary that I know is the perfect fit for me. Because of this scholarship I can now step on the plane confidently, knowing that it is okay that I am going away for the year and leaving my responsibilities behind. That feeling of confidence is one that I never would have been able to have without the Torah Letzion scholarship.
The experiences and life lessons that I gained could not have been obtained in a classroom setting. I owe my mother enormous credit for instilling in me my beliefs, views, and high levels of maturity and responsibility. I hope for my year in Israel that I can take all that I have learned and apply it to the new me.
Student studying in MMY